Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page
Stephen Morrissey
Photo credit: Larry Neily

Stephen Morrissey, poet and teacher, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1950. His father, Edgar Morrissey, was employed as chief clerk and secretary to the Chairman and President of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. The Morrissey family emigrated to Canada from Tipperary, Ireland in 1837. Stephen Morrissey is a fifth generation Montrealer. His mother is the daughter of immigrant parents from Blackburn, England. His only sibling, an older brother, John R. Morrissey, graduated from McGill University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Ottawa and is a patent lawyer in Toronto.

Stephen Morrissey attended public schools in Montreal. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Honours in English with Distinction, from Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) in 1973. In 1976 he graduated with a Master of Arts degree in English from McGill University where he studied with the eminent poet Louis Dudek, author of twenty books of poetry and numerous books of essays and critical articles on literature. Morrissey won the Peterson Poetry Award while at McGill.

Morrissey also published two literary magazines of poetry, "what is" (1973-1975) and "The Montreal Journal of Poetics" (1978-1985). Since 1976 Morrissey has taught English and Humanities at Champlain College, where he is still employed. In 1983 Coach House Press in Toronto published Morrissey's second book of poems, Divisions. The book was accepted for publication by bpNichol and edited by Frank Davey. Northrop Frye wrote, "Divisions...I found extremely powerful, at once visionary and movingly personal." His third book, Family Album (1989) was published to critical acclaim by Caitlin Press in Vancouver.

Stephen Morrissey's poetry is visionary and grippingly confessional. He has been influenced by two great thinkers of the twentieth century: J. Krishnamurti, whose lectures he attended in Switzerland, California and New York City, and C.G. Jung, whose work influenced his Shadow Trilogy; The Compass (1993), The Yoni Rocks (1995), and The Mystic Beast (1997), all published by Empyreal Press in Montreal. Mapping the Soul: New and Selected Poems was published in 1998 by the Muses ' Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ralph Maud, Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia writes, "Morrissey tells us things we want to know about life, his life and ours. He does not get in the way of the reader thoroughly enjoying his poetry."

Morrissey has also published seven chapbooks of his poems, Poems of a Period (Montreal, 1971), The Divining Rod Edmonton, Greensleeve Editions, 1993), The Beauty of Love (The Poem Factory, Vancouver, 1993), The Carolyn Poems (The Poem Factory, Vancouver, 1994), 1950 (The Poem Factory, Vancouver,1996), Hoolahan's Flats, Oxford Avenue (Coracle Press, Montreal, 2005), and Remembering Artie Gold (Coracle Press, Montreal, 2007).

Stephen Morrissey has received three writer's grants from the Canada Council for the Arts. In 1997 the Government of Quebec named an island in northern Quebec after a phrase from one of his poems, "La Vingt-Septieme Lettre." His poetry has been translated into French by Pierre DesRuisseaux and published in bilingual anthologies, and by Elizabeth Robert who translated The Mystic Beast which was published as La bęte mystique (Les Editions Triptyque, Montreal, 2004). His poems have been published in anthologies and literary magazines. He has published many book reviews and articles on poetry and poetics in journals in Canada. He has given poetry readings across Canada, from Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He has also read his work in the United States.

The Stephen Morrissey Papers, 1963 - 2003 are housed at the Rare Books and Special Collections of the McLennan Library of McGill University. There have been two accruals: the first accrual is comprised of literary papers, manuscripts, notebooks, posters, photographs of poets, tape recordings of poetry readings and other papers. A second accrual is comprised of Morrissey's extensive literary correspondence (1963 - 2000).

Stephen Morrissey has one son, Jake Morrissey, a doctoral student specializing in Medieval Literature at McGill University. He married poet Carolyn Zonailo in 1995. In 2000, Stephen Morrissey and Carolyn Zonailo founded Coracle Press which publishes on-line chapbooks.

Stephen Morrissey is a member of The Writers' Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, PEN Canada, and the Quebec Writers' Federation.

               May 18, 2007


Stephen Morrissey's works copyright © to the author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page